Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Fire and Emergency New Zealand crews are responding to several rural blazes in Southland, Otago and South Canterbury today, with strong winds preventing helicopters from being deployed in most areas.
On-call Region 5 Commander Keith McIntosh said the regional coordination centre had been activated to monitor the situation in Otago and Southland, where he said resources were stretched due to the large number of call-outs. At one stage this afternoon, 37 appliances and tankers were involved across the region.
Mr McIntosh urged people to check old fire sites on their properties to make sure they were fully out, and not to contemplate lighting new fires. Fire permits have been suspended across Otago.
As at 2.30pm crews were fighting three separate fires in Southland – two within five km of each other in the Waimea Valley, with another near Dacre.
Assistant Area Commander Deane Chalmers said that the first fire in the Waimea Valley was reported in a hedge at 8am and because of the wind it rapidly spread 400m along the roadside to a haybarn and deer yards. Five appliances and six tankers fought the fire, coordinated from the command unit. “Due to the determined efforts of the firefighters, we were able to protect the house and other important structures on the farm,” Mr Chalmers said.
He understood that power lines arcing together had caused that fire.
By 2pm the site was being dampened down and crews were redeployed to a second fire about 5km away. That fire had started in a pile of forestry slash and was moving uphill towards a small forestry plantation. Mr Chalmers said that with winds gusting up to 100km/hr in the area, it had not been possible to use helicopters. By 3pm conditions were beginning to ease, with higher humidity and lower winds, and crews had contained the fire within a cordon.
The fire near Dacre was reported just after 1pm and had burned a hedge and haybales. Crews from Invercargill, Edendale and Wyndham are still at the scene.
The occupants of three properties are being prepared to evacuate near Fairlie as crews from five rural and four urban brigades battle a fire in a forestry plantation, which started around midday. Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Ray Gardner said five appliances, five tankers and three diggers were currently on site with more resources on the way, including the Timaru Command Unit.
The fire began in an area of forestry operations and had begun to spread to the standing trees, but efforts to prevent it spreading further had so far been successful. Mr Gardner said conditions were difficult with high winds and smoke.
Near Owaka, two helicopters and four ground crews are fighting a fire which has reignited from a previous rural burnoff.
And near Waikouaiti fire crews are working to protect a house after two workshops were destroyed by a fire which had begun in a line of trees.